Archive for December, 2010

The year that wasn’t, the year that will be

Over on Unleaded, I took a look ahead at 2011 today.  So here I’m going to take a look back on 2010.

I had two main goals this past year.  I wanted to get Capsule finished by Balticon, and I wanted to start the search for literary representation.  Unfortunately as many who know me are aware, this ended up being the year that I battled a few months of health issues in the form of a rather drawn out case of GERD.  It created a lot of insomnia, which left me tired, and which in the end left me not writing.  By the time I started feeling better my momentum on Capsule was dead in the water, and I’m still trying to get it back now, almost exactly a year after the condition started.

So yeah.  Cry cry cry woe is me.  I recognize that I failed to meet a lot of my 2010 goals, and I can blame that on anything I want and look back in despair, or I can look ahead to 2011 and what I hope to accomplish.  For this purpose, I have outlined a set of four goals that I hope aren’t too lofty, but are still enough of a stretch that I have to work at achieving them.

1)  Finish the first draft of Capsule.  I could give myself any number of deadlines for this.  Balticon, Capclave, Ravencon, but really I’ll be happy if by this time next year I’ve started the editing process.  I don’t want to rush it, but I don’t want the momentum to carry me into the doldrums any further than it already has.

2)  Have at least three short stories out for consideration at all times.  I currently have four that I really consider submission ready: Sleep, Rustler, Div 0, and Queen of Belmeth.  With the Queen getting passed over for the Commonplace Book of Lovecraft, that mean I currently have just two stories out.  This goal includes having more stories that I feel could be submitted as well as keeping a constant eye on target markets for those stories.  I can’t sell any story that I don’t actively try to sell, and I need to be a hell of a lot better about that than I currently am.

3)  Find at least six anthologies that I would have to write a story for scratch for, and do so.  I’m going to count Primogeniture as the first of those six, because it’s my goal, damn it, and I can do what I want with it.  There are several that have already come and gone that I meant to work up stories for.  Historical Lovecraft’s deadline is just 5 days away, too soon for me to finish anything at this point, and that upsets me.  Plus this will help my goal #2.

4)  Start my Fortnight Caps project.  This will be a every-other-week posting of a flash piece, either one that I’ve already written or one that I’m freshly inspired to write, here on the blog.  It’s an effort to increase eyeballs and maybe, just maybe, my profile as a writer.  Even if just a tiny bit.

An ancillary goal that needs to be included with both #2 and #3 is to better track where my short stories are and have been.  I realized the other day I couldn’t remember the name of the audio anthology I’d sent Sleep off to, for example.  That’s something I really should be able to look up.  Also, I’m going to stop using my Hotmail to send submissions and switch over to my @DLThurston.com email addresses.

So best of luck to everyone with the new year, with your writing if you choose to write, or any other venture you choose to undertake.

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Capsule Tech: Word Lens

Has anyone not seen the Word Lens video yet?  Just in case, this is some awesome stuff:

There’s a new group of apps coming out that aren’t so much augmented reality as replaced reality.  The first that I showed over on Unleaded was a diminished reality app.  This one is a replaced reality app.  Both I find absolutely fascinating in their potential implications, especially as this technology improves.  In both the demo of that DR app, and in a more in-depth review of the Word Lens app, there are clear visual errors.  But expecting perfection out of first proof of concept apps like this is a fool’s game.

What they both represent, however, are potential steps towards a future where one can’t be as certain about what one sees.  Augmented Reality tends to stand out, it’s elements that are clearly not actually there.  These apps, however, look to interrupt reality, change it, then feed it out in a new format.  Right now the obvious line in the sand for telling it’s not real is the requirement to hold up a smart phone and only seeing the altered reality on its screen.

It’ll be interesting to see where this technology can move to.  I suspect the ability to put augmented or altered reality into a pair of glasses, or at least goggles, is only a decade or two off.  And at that point, the line will start to blur as to where reality begins and ends.

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The Cloud Giveth…

Over on Unleaded this week I wrote a post about backing up ones writing, redundant backups, and even included that amorphous concept of “The Cloud” as a backup source.  This is the new concept that some companies, including Microsoft and Google, are trying to push that you can store your files online where things can be redundantly backed up by the massive servers of multi-million dollar corporations, not only protecting them against the potential issues of physical media but also making them available everywhere.  It seems like such a fantastic concept.  Just yesterday I started writing Back Half, and because I did it in Google Docs I was able to pick up right where I left off when I got home without any transition or mailing of files.  It’s great.

However, there’s one problem.

It’s been announced that Yahoo is planning on cutting its cloud bookmark service Delicious.

Perhaps this isn’t too much of a surprise, as Yahoo has been scrambling for money and relevancy ever since the ascension of Google.  And there are several tutorials running now online about how to pull your information out of Delicious.  But it drives home that these Cloud computing endeavors are ultimately run by corporations, and corporations decide all the time to change focus or to shut their doors.  Now, does that mean that Google Docs is in any danger of closing tomorrow?  Absolutely not.  In fact, most companies like Google or Yahoo are very good about nice long twilight periods for their online services.  The shut down of Google Wave was announced roughly three months in advance.  But these are the big boys and companies that care about reputations going forward.

A little due diligence never killed anyone.  When it comes to any form of online backup (whether hard drive backup or Cloud redundancy) know who you’re dealing with and make sure to ask yourself what happens if the service or entire company shuts down.  Just as I would never want an important file to exist only on my laptop’s hard drive, I also wouldn’t want my only copy to be available from a single Cloud computing provider.  Is this paranoia?  Perhaps.  Is that a bad thing in the end?  I contend no.

In the end, as most advice does, it comes down to common sense.  A well established company is going to be a safer bet than one who went into business yesterday.  That’s true in almost any venture, but especially true online.  So back up your files, just be aware of who you’re backing them up with.

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Quick thought

While I’m sure I’ll never get to the point in my career that I’ll be famous enough for television commercials (and have always been somewhat dubious of novels being advertised on television), if it ever does happen I’m going to insist that my ads include no words that, while technically in the dictionary, really shouldn’t actually be words.

As long as I’m posting, I forgot to do this week’s cross post back to Unleaded.  This week the story of a laptop theft inspired some thoughts on data backup.  I plan to take my own advice this weekend.

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Noodling feels good.

I’ve been doing something I haven’t done in too long: noodling on a new plot concept.  Thanks to bouncing some ideas off of my wife and favorite noodling partner last night I’m about halfway to what I think is a plot I’d really enjoy writing for the Primogeniture contest I highlighted over in Unleaded.  It may mean that Capsule gets put on a back burner for a little while, but I also find that a rising tide lifts all ships when it comes to me getting my brain into the writing mode.  The working title for the new story is The Back Half (and when I saw working title, I can’t recall the last time I changed a working title to a “final” one).  Hopefully I’ll start putting words in documents before the new year.

In general, it’s a process that I enjoy.  She’s good at asking the right kind of questions to get me over such speed bumps as “well, I have a tone and characters, but what are they actually doing?”  Which turns out to be one of those really important questions when it comes to writing.  I’ve done some research on the subject, and apparently more competent writers than I call this a “plot”.  One day hopefully that’s the kind of thing I’d be able to come up with on my own.  Or maybe not.  It’s not like collaboration is such a dirty word.

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Cruise plot?

Over on Unleaded today I posted a trio of anthologies that I found in my last wander through Duotrope.  It didn’t occur to me until after I posted that one of the three might make for a fantastic outlet for my planned cruise story.  I leave it as an exercise to the reader which of queer-theme Steampunk, the end of the world, or a generation ship recently departed earth I see as the closest analogy to a cruise ship.  And I suppose it makes a certain amount of sense.  What other industry that exists today is often charged with keeping entertained several thousand people living in an enclosed space with no option for leaving?

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Writers Write

I think that’s going to be my new mantra, and something that I need to get tattooed backwards across my forehead so I can read it in a mirror.  Anyway, another Wednesday, another post over in Unleaded, this time exploring the few things I’ll say against Nanowrimo, basically the line between having written and being a writer.

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